Game Notes: Northwestern vs. Illinois (Wrigley Field)


The normal red marquee will be purple this Saturday

The people have spoken and I will be going to Wrigley Field this Saturday to see football played at the historic grounds. Here is how the vote went down:

  1. Northwestern vs. Illinois (Wrigley) 50%
  2. Purdue @ Michigan State 39%
  3. Grand Valley State vs. Colorado Mines 7%
  4. Ball State vs. Northern Illinois 4%

I think that some felt pity on me, and did not want to see yet another road trip to a Purdue game only to see them get throttled. Early in the season this was the trip I was going to make as I have not seen a football game in East Lansing yet. As the injuries piled up though I decided now may not be the time. Instead I will head to Wrigley Field to see what I think is one of the most unique football games this season. Normally this is where I would make a joke about college football being played at a Minor League stadium, but I am above that this week. Football is not new to Wrigley field. The Bears played over 365 regular season games in the friendly confines. Until 2003 Wrigley had hosted more professional football games than any other stadium. The last time football was played in Wrigley was in 1970 though. You have to go way back to 1938 to find the last college football game played in Wrigley. That game featured Depaul up against St. Louis. Of course neither of those two schools even has a football program now. 

This time around they have made things a little different. The field now goes from home plate to right field. Any pictures I have seen from the old configuration show it going from home plate to left field. Another interesting fact is that both teams will be on the same side of the field. Due to space limitations both benches will be side by side. The field fits in so tight that there is less than a foot in certain areas from the playing field to the brick wall. Things should get interesting Saturday on plays close to the wall. The goalpost in right field is actually attached to the outfield wall.

Edit: As of Friday morning the rules have changed for the game. The teams will now never be driving towards the right field end zone. All offensive possessions will be going towards home plate. How crazy is that? The only time a player could score in the east end zone is on a defensive touchdown. No matter where the touchdown is scored both teams will will kick the extra points and field goals towards the west end zone. I would guess that the absurd rule changes that were made at the last minute for this game will go a long way toward making sure that it is the last football game played at Wrigley.

The two teams playing could not be coming off any different weeks. Northwestern is coming off a huge win against then #13 Iowa. Illinois on the other hand was embarrassed my Minnesota who claimed their first Big Ten win of the season. As big as Illinois loss was to Minnesota nothing can compare to the loss of Northwesterns quarterback Dan Persa. Persa was hurt on the last offensive play of the game for Northwestern, and will be out the rest of the season. That is a big blow for a team that has seven wins on the season, and was starting to think big. I am sure that all the hype surrounding this game will help the teams get up for it though. College Gameday even thinks enough of the special circumstances surrounding the game to broadcast live from across the street. The atmosphere around the stadium should be a festive one, and one which I should enjoy. The Persa injury along with the uncertainty of what Illinois team will show up makes this game hard to predict. Since I have no real ties to either team I think I will just go and have some fun. Although I have a strong suspicion that I will be pulling for the Wildcats once I get inside. You will not see me wearing any purple though. Thank God that Purdue has gold and black as their colors.

My seat for the game is near the right field foul pole which would not be a bad seat for a baseball game, but I think that it will be an excellent seat for the game on Saturday. Time will tell though. I should have a great view of the right field end zone (that just seemed weird to type) though which is the one that seems to be the best. Hopefully I can get some good pictures to post next week.

Predictions: I needed to pick it up a bit last week to get my percentage up, and I did just the opposite. I never saw the upset of Utah by Notre Dame coming. Illinois losing to Minnesota was also a shocker. I will also not be picking Purdue to win this week because they have burned me over and over this season. Here is how I did last week:

  • #13 Iowa 34 (17) – Northwestern 20 (21)
  • #7 Wisconsin 42 (83) – Indiana 28 (20)
  • Illinois 37 (34) – Minnesota 18 (38)
  • #9 Ohio State 32 (38) – Penn State 24 (14)
  • #14 Utah 38 (3) – Notre Dame 20 (28)
  • #8 Nebraska 52 (20) – Kansas 10 (3)
  • #12 Alabama 33 (30) – #19 Mississippi State 17 (10)
  • #23 South Carolina 31 (36) – Florida 28 (14)
  • #17 Missouri 34 (38) – #24 Kansas State 27 (28)
  • Purdue 38 (16) – Michigan 37 (27)

After a 6-4 week my record now sits at 88-22 on the season. I will have to pull some magic out of my hat this week to get the record up. As usual I will pick all of the Big Ten games along with future Big Ten member Nebraska. I will also pick the Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium as well as the Grand Valley State Lakers playoff opener. Thankfully the Lakers are playing the Colorado Mines instead of the Chilean Miners. They would have had no chance in the sympathy vote going up against the Chilean Miners. Of course the Chilean Miners might have gotten trapped in their locker room and not come back out after halftime making the second half much easier. Here are the week eleven picks:

  • #12 Michigan State 45 – Purdue 15
  • Penn State 38 – Indiana 17
  • #7 Wisconsin 44 – Michigan 27
  • #9 Ohio State 27 – #20 Iowa 20
  • #8 Nebraska 31 – #19 Texas A&M 20
  • #16 Virginia Tech 28 – #24 Miami (FL) 27
  • #13 Arkansas 31 – #21 Mississippi State 17
  • Grand Valley State 42 – Colorado Mines 13
  • Notre Dame 27 – Army 18
  • Northwestern 28 – Illinois 24
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